Performance, Pricing and Conclusion
While we are intimately familiar with both the Core i5-4690K and the GTX 980 at this point, we decided to run a couple of benchmarks on the Maven Core to make sure it sat within our expectations.
In Cinebench 11, the Intel Core i5-4690K performed exactly as we expected. Considering that the noise level was extremely low during this benchmark, it's good to see that the processor had more than adequate cooling to achieve peak performance.
As for gaming, the Maven Core's GTX 980 absolutely crushed any 1080p game that we threw at it. Crysis 3, Battlefield 4, and Shadow of Mordor ran great on max settings, with headroom to spare. As a quick double check of performance we ran 3DMark Fire Strike and found everything to be in line with our expectations.
Pricing and Conclusion
As we received the Maven Core, including a i5-4690k, GTX 980, and InfiniTV CableCARD Tuner, it comes in at $2,988. Pricing out the closest possible configuration with just individual components we came up with a cost of just around $2250, meaning that the cost of labor and markup of the Maven Core sits somewhere around $700.
Considering some of the nice touches like the custom case that we couldn't find anywhere else, and the custom sleeved cables, this price difference is easier to swallow than some custom-built PCs we've seen in the past. That being said, if you are the type of person who was already set on building their own PC, it is unlikely you would be looking at this as an option in the first place.
Also keep in mind that you don't have to order a system with such high end specifications from Steiger Dynamics. For $1500 you could get a system with a i5-4690, GTX 750 Ti, and a 3TB Western Digital Red.
The promise of a home theater PC has been hounding us for a decade or longer but a build from Steiger Dynamics certainly lessnes much of the headache of building one.
Editor's Note: It just so happens that Steiger Dynamics is also the distributor for the Couchmaster, a truly unique and useful product for gamers that sit in front of a TV! You can catch my review of the Couchmaster from last year.